An extraordinary mix of sensual music and leering narrative in an unlikely pairing of British cultural icons.
Before Mary Millington arrived on the scene, Fiona Richmond was Britain’s adult entertainment queen. Discovered by Paul Raymond as a jobbing actress in his stage show Pyjama Tops, the vicar’s daughter was soon in a relationship with the striptease mogul, who quickly began pushing her towards stardom. As well as appearing in his theatrical shows, she was hyped as a sex-mad nympho road-testing men in his magazine Men Only and pushed into movies – after a supporting role in notorious slasher (and, latterly, video nasty) Exposé, she had the leads in the misleadingly titled Hardcore and Let’s Get Laid, and penned several erotic novels that were promoted as memoirs. Richmond’s success made her independently wealthy and a familiar media face – she was a chat show regular (imagine that happening now?) and continued to work in the media throughout the 1980s, having roles in mainstream films like History of the World Part One and Eat the Rich. She currently owns two hotels and is by all accounts happily retired.
In 1973, Raymond bankrolled the LP Frankly Fiona (also the working title of Hardcore). Conceived by Des McClusky of The Bachelors, the album teamed Richmond with the remarkable singer / actor / songwriter Anthony Newley (the man behind the extraordinary The Strange World of Gurney Slade and one-time Mr Joan Collins), who wrote all the easy listening music for the LP; Richmond provided the words for the erotic spoken monologues littered throughout the album. The producer was David Whitaker, a producer, arranger and composer who had written film scores as varied as Scream and Scream Again, The Playbirds and The Sword and the Sorceror, as well as working with everyone from Serge Gainsbourg to Jimmy Page. Unfortunately, Fiona was no singer, and so the songs were performed by an unidentified session singer.
Unexpectedly, the LP is actually quite good. Fiona’s stories are suitably steamy (and while she wasn’t a good singer, her posh and sensual delivery is impressive) and Newley’s songs are gloriously loungetastic. The album wasn’t available in shops, but was sold – for five pounds – through Raymond’s magazines. It’s been out of circulation since the mid 1970s, and now, of course, sells for a fortune. So we thought we’d share it with you…
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